Lüderitz & Kolmanskop
Wild desert horses, a town abandoned to shifting sands and a picturesque fishing village, the southern Namib claims three of Namibia’s unique attractions.
The Wild Horses of Aus
The area around Aus is famous for the legendary wild desert horses that roam its rugged landscapes. There are as many as 170 of these feral mounts living in the Namib Desert, but this number fluctuates according to grazing conditions. While there are many theories behind how these horses came to be here, the most likely premise suggests they are descended from the horses left behind when German troops fled during South Africa’s invasion in 1915.
The Ghost Town of Kolmanskop
Once a major diamond town, Kolmanskop shines for an entirely different reason today. The town was totally deserted by 1956 and left to the mercy of the shifting desert. Surreal and eerie, many of the original prospectors’ mansions still stand today. Desert sand has blown in and around the buildings; some swallowed almost entirely and others half-buried – their doors hanging open as the relentless Namib slowly engulfs their insides. Don’t forget your camera.
Lüderitz: Namibia’s Hidden Gem
Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namib Desert, Lüderitz is a small colonial town that owes its existence to the discovery of diamonds in 1908. But unlike other boom towns of that era, Lüderitz has survived thanks to its other major industry: fishing. Its character comes from the colourful mix of art nouveau architecture, which, combined with the charm of its village-like atmosphere, makes Lüderitz a delightful stopover on any Namibian journey.
Best time to visit
Aus, Lüderitz and Kolmanskop are best visited in the drier months between May and October.
Combine Lüderitz & Kolmanskop with:
- Sossusvlei: discover a soulscape of sand dunes at Sossusvlei.
- Kalahari: explore the red sands of the Kalahari.
The village of Aus is small but has some amenities including a hotel, police station, shop and garage.
Due to Kolmanskop’s location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town.
Heaviside’s dolphins are often seen close to the shore in Lüderitz, while southern right and humpback whales, though less common, have been known to make an appearance too.
Garub Pan: this permanent water supply is the closest visitors can come to the wild horses of the Namib unless they take an exclusive guided tour into the desert.
Guided Tour of Kolmanskop: A guided tour around this eerie ghost town reveals fascinating insights into the past.
Architecture: the German Lutheran Church (1912) and the Goerke Haus (1909) are both excellent examples of colonial art nouveau architecture in Lüderitz.
Lüderitz Peninsula: just south of town, several small bays invite long walks along rocky and windswept deserted beaches.
Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park: this landscape of granite mountains, dry riverbeds and sweeping plains is one of the most bio-diverse deserts on earth.
Lüderitz & Kolmanskop on the Map
The southern Namib has a unique atmosphere. Here, the tenuous balance between nature and civilisation is keenly felt in the abandoned mansions of Kolmanskop, the preserved colonial buildings of Lüderitz and among the wild horses of Aus.